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6 - Sui Generis

Genealogical Claims to the Past and the Transmission of l’ḥjāb

from Part III - Articulating Race, Gender, and Social Difference through the Esoteric Sciences

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 January 2023

Erin Pettigrew
Affiliation:
New York University, Abu Dhabi
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Summary

This chapter addresses the history of the Ahl Guennar, a confederation of families known for their mastery of l’ḥjāb, whose members are dispersed among several villages just north of the Senegal River. The Ahl Guennar’s ambiguous racial identity, their shifting religious and occupational affiliations, their secrecy and enigmatic reputation, and their long history in the region make them a compelling case study for the role of Islamic esoteric knowledge in Mauritania’s mercurial political and cultural environment. Claiming descent from a well-known religious figure and a miraculous origin story for their principal village, the Ahl Guennar established themselves by the seventeenth-century learning and teaching the Qur’ān and its sciences and carving out an exclusive space for themselves in the political dynamics of the Gebla, or southwestern region of Mauritania. This chapter deals with the long-term history of the family to better understand how they deploy these stories to claim religious and social roles in the region and to illustrate how Islamic knowledge is transmitted and the ways these Muslim mediators of the spiritual and material worlds depended upon this knowledge to thrive.

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Invoking the Invisible in the Sahara
Islam, Spiritual Mediation, and Social Change
, pp. 222 - 267
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Sui Generis
  • Erin Pettigrew, New York University, Abu Dhabi
  • Book: Invoking the Invisible in the Sahara
  • Online publication: 19 January 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009224581.010
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  • Sui Generis
  • Erin Pettigrew, New York University, Abu Dhabi
  • Book: Invoking the Invisible in the Sahara
  • Online publication: 19 January 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009224581.010
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Sui Generis
  • Erin Pettigrew, New York University, Abu Dhabi
  • Book: Invoking the Invisible in the Sahara
  • Online publication: 19 January 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009224581.010
Available formats
×